The team behind Kilgore’s planned ‘Friendship Playground’ gathered at the future home of the all-inclusive amenity Thursday for a free lunch outreach to potential fundraisers.
With hot dogs and Frito pie waiting for visitors under the Harris Street Park pavilion, the local volunteers were ready to layout their mission to build a special needs-friendly playscape in partnership with City of Kilgore and the Special Abilities Family Fun Event (SAFFE) Day.
“It is an inclusive playground where children of all abilities can play with each other,” Stacey Cole said, “and also adults who may have mobility issues or other issues.
“No one will be unable to play on this playground due to any medical or physicial limitations.
The project is spearheaded by Kilgore Chamber of Commerce’s inaugural group of E4 leadership participants. With a goal to ‘Embark, Enlighten, Empower and Engage,’ the group’s first one-year term stretched into two after they adopted the inclusivity initiative.
“We started in August of 2017. We had this vision in October 2017,” E4 team member Kim Krantz said. As they learned more about the community and prepared to move into leadership positions, the participants wanted to leave a lasting impact in their class project. “It started out with probably one piece of equipment, but when we got to deciding and looking at what they had available we decided to go big and try to put in an entire playground.”
Among the planned equipment for Friendship Playground, the group wants swings specially-designed to accommodate all users, especially individuals with a range of special needs, in addition to a two-story, fully-accessible ‘treehouse’ and numerous sensory toys.
The Friendship Playground organizers are seeking contributions toward a general target of $75,000 to $100,000, more than half the estimated pricetag for the project, about $175,000.
“We are looking for sponsors and people to help us reach our fundraising goals,” Cole said simply.
To learn more or contribute to the effort, visit tinyurl.com/FriendshipPlayground or search Facebook for “Friendship Playground at Harris Street Park.”